Brooklyn goes all-in, net Harden in blockbuster 4-team trade

The Brooklyn Nets are going all-in!

The Nets pushed all their chips on the table to acquire Houston Rocket’s disgrunted superstar James Harden, forming a super team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn gave up its young core led by Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, multiple first-round picks, and pick swaps in the blockbuster deal.

The trade expanded to include the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

The Rockets then shipped LeVert to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo. Allen and Prince were re-routed to the Cavaliers.

The final trade scenario looked like this, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania:

Nets acquired:

  • James Harden

Rockets acquired:

  • Victor Oladipo (via Pacers)
  • Dante Exum (via Cavaliers)
  • Rodions Kurucs (via Nets)
  • Nets’ unprotected first-round picks (2022, 2024, 2026)
  • pick swaps with Nets (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)
  • Cavaliers’ 2022 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks)
  • future second-round pick (via Pacers)

Pacers acquired:

  • Caris LeVert (via Nets)
  • future second-round pick (via Rockets)

Cavaliers acquired:

  • Jarett Allen (via Nets)
  • Taurean Prince (via Nets)

‘It can’t be fixed’

The trade which Harden pushed so hard since the offseason escalated quickly after his zoom interview last night.

“We’re not even close, honestly, to, obviously, the defending champions (Lakers) and all the other elite teams out there,” Harden said. “I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

“Chemistry, talent-wise, everything. It’s clear. I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can. It’s crazy. I don’t think it can be fixed. Thanks.”

The Rockets eventually caved in to his trade demand.

Reunion in Brooklyn

Harden is now reunited with Durant, his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.

The Nets got much-needed firepower after losing Spencer Dinwiddie to a season-ending injury. An uneven start forced the Nets to mortgage their future for the present. It didn’t help that Irving also went on leave due to personal reasons.

The trade, though, left the Nets’ bench gutted.

They have three more spots to fill. Look out for Jamal Crawford’s name to be linked to the Nets anew. Crawford played for the Nets in the Orlando bubble.

Moving on

The Rockets, meanwhile, can now move forward from the drama that engulfed the team up to this point.

Oladipo will team up with John Wall at the backcourt.

The Rockets endured a volatile offseason with Harden instigating a ‘holdout’ in the training camp. That caused him to miss the beginning of training camp and their first two preseason games. He was subsequently fined for violating the league’s health protocols.

On the other hand, the Cavaliers got an emerging young center in Allen. He will serve as their center of the future with Andre Drummond set to hit free agency.

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Durant, Irving look good together but Nets’ title hopes still fragile

For the first nine minutes and 27 seconds of the preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards last Sunday night, the world saw a glimpse of the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving potential.

The 119-114 final scoreline in favor of the Nets didn’t tell the whole story.

Worth the long wait

It was a long wait for the Nets, who signed both superstars to separate four-year deals as the culmination of the reclamation project of GM Sean Marks in Brooklyn. But definitely worth it.

Started from the bottom, the Nets have gone a long way, morphing from a team with no cap space into a fringe playoff contender and now a serious title threat in the NBA.

In that glorious stretch in the opening quarter, the long recovery of both Durant and Irving from serious injuries was an afterthought. Irving’s contentious relationship with the media was sidetracked. James Harden was never needed.

Durant dusted off anxious moments and shrugged off nervousness with a baseline dunk for his basket since tearing his Achilles back in June of 2019.

The former MVP was back to his silky-smooth ways scoring 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting, while Irving’s court wizardry produced 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The Nets were in full control with Durant and Irving on the floor. They opened up a 12-point lead, 30-28, that ballooned to as many 26 points.

‘I was anxious, nervous’

It didn’t matter the Wizards tried to come back when Durant went out for good in the third quarter while Irving didn’t see action in the second half. What mattered was they showed it’s really worth the wait.

“I was anxious, nervous. I visualized this moment for so long — nine, 10 months of thinking about how it would be, this next phase of my career,” Durant said postgame. “I felt like I was chomping at the bit, especially once COVID hit because I didn’t see a future — when the season was going to start in the future. I was going through it.

“So to go through this felt solid.”

Durant played a total of 24 minutes and finished with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.

He looked confident in his first game back.

‘The world missed Durant’

Irving led the Nets with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting despite sitting out the whole second half.

“That’s one of the perks of this position, is you get to coach two incredible players,” said first-time head coach Steve Nash. “Ky was super sharp and Kevin, after such an extensive layoff was very good and close to being incredible.”

“When you have that type of injury,” Nash said of Durant after the game, “it is kind of remarkable he’s at the level he’s at.

“It’s amazing. This is an injury that very few people have conquered, so to speak. It’s beautiful to see him back on the basketball court. I think the world missed him — I certainly did.”

Without Durant and partially Irving (shoulder injury), the Nets were still able to contend for the last playoff spot in the East.

This season, they are expected to contend for the title.

But that will hinge on Durant and Irving’s fragile bodies to hold up for the condensed season.

Bench depth over Harden

James Harden could be their insurance. But if there’s anything their first preseason game revealed aside from the Durant-Irving dominance, the Nets also saw the depth they will potentially miss if the Houston Rockets’ superstar gets his wish.

The Rockets have maintained they do not want the Nets’ complimentary players plus picks, per ESPN report. They may need a third team where the Rockets can get a young star.

But Marks have earlier remarked that the Nets don’t want to mortgage their future for Harden. Durant, on the other hand, denied recruiting Harden.

The Nets, who played without young rising star Caris LeVert due to patella contusion, had four more players in double figures aside from Durant and Irving.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 10 points and seven assists. Newcomer Landry Shamet, acquired via Draft Day trade, his 3 of 5 from the outside to finish with 13 points. Taurean Prince and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot each added 11.

Irving breaks media silence

Irving, who skipped the postgame interviews, finally broke his media blackout Monday morning.

The Nets and their star point guard were fined $25,000 each for the media blackout to which he responded with a controversial Instagram:

“I’ve had enough of someone else propaganda… I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently… I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”

Irving addressed them in his first media session, denying it was directed to NBA writers.

“It’s really just about how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership… We want to perform in a secure and protected space,” he said.

He also retracted his earlier statement on Durant’s podcast that he really didn’t see them having a coach.

“Steve’s been amazing,” Irving said Monday. “He kind of commands the respect. I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago. But it’s just like, man, we have such a great synergy. Everyone feels like we’re coaching one another to be better, so I’m grateful for that.”

If their first game together is any indication, the synergy looks great. Credit it to Nash for not having a big ego and having the right temperament to handle the issue that could have otherwise gone south.

While the Nets are off to a good start, their title hopes still hang in the balance of their superstars’ fragile bodies and egos. 

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Kevin Durant denies recruiting James Harden to Brooklyn Nets

The NBA training camp has begun, and James Harden is still in Houston. Still the franchise cornerstone of the Rockets.

The blockbuster trade that was supposed to bring Harden to the Brooklyn Nets got stalled with the Rockets wanting to get a king’s ransom in return. Something that the Nets wouldn’t want to do — mortgage their future.

And at the center of the storm that threatened to tilt the balance of power in the NBA is Kevin Durant, who, reportedly, had a conversation with Harden in forming a super team with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

Durant vehemently denied such conversations between him and Harden on the first day of the Nets’ training camp.

“I don’t know where you’re making these stories up, that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant told reporters via zoom on Tuesday. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff. I was just so focused on working out.

But Durant, who will make his much-anticipated return from an Achilles injury more than a week from now, has acknowledged that he’s heard all the trade chatter.

“I heard all the noise that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets, but anyone can make up stories, anyone can write a story, and it gets some traction,” Durant said.

“Nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone. So I’ve never thought too much about it, just focused on myself and my teammates probably did the same thing, and we just move forward.”

Nets re-sign Tyler Johnson, Chris Chiozza

Moving forward is what the Nets have done as they traded for gunner Landry Shamet and re-signed guards Tyler Johnson and Chris Chiozza.

Even without Harden, the Nets are installed as one of the favorites in the East. All eyes will be on the new-look Nets with Durant and Irving and first-time head coach Steve Nash when they host the Washington Wizards for their first preseason game on Dec. 13 to be aired live on YES Network.

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Report: Nets, Rockets verbally agree on James Harden blockbuster trade

The Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets are nearing completion of a blockbuster deal that will send James Harden to Brooklyn, according to Anthony Puccio of Front Office Sports.

Multiple sources have told Puccio that there’s a deal in place, and both teams already have a verbal agreement.

Shortly after the news broke out, Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated put out more details on the imminent trade.

The Rockets are seeking a massive haul in return for Harden, who has been the face of the franchise since 2012. The 2018 MVP earned his third scoring title last season after averaging 34.3 points. In addition to his dynamic scoring, Harden also averaged 7.6 assists, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals, becoming just the third player to lead the NBA in total points and steals to join Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson in the exclusive group.

Harden, 31, earlier rejected a two-year, $103-million extension offer putting more pressure on the Rockets to trade him to his preferred destination.

The Nets rose on top of Harden’s wish list after conversations with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the West Coast, and with former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni joining the Nets in an assistant role to first-time head coach Steve Nash.

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Report: James Harden badly wants Nets trade, rejects Rockets’ massive extension offer

James Harden is pulling an Anthony Davis act as the Houston Rockets superstar is ‘singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets‘, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harden is taking a page from Davis and Klutch Sports’ playbook, which forced the New Orleans Pelicans to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019. One year later, Davis won a championship.

Harden reportedly made his intentions clear to the Rockets’ new management, led by first-time general manager Rafael Stone, when he rejected a two-year, $103 million extension that could have locked him in Houston for the next five years.

Harden believes his window to win a title with the Rockets ended when they parted ways with long-time general manager Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni.

The idea of forming a super team in Brooklyn came to shape in recent weeks. Harden had conversations with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving that ramped up his decision. The Rockets, however, made it known to the Nets and the rest of the league that they expect a massive haul in return for their franchise player.

“That means young players, draft picks and salary-cap relief,” Wojnarowski said on Monday night’s edition of ESPN’s Sports Center.

With three years left in Harden’s contract, including a player option on the third year, the Rockets plan to play this out and create a bidding war if the situation is no longer salvageable.

It appears Harden has already made up his mind.

The 31-year old superstar hopes to have his next two years contending for the title with the Nets before he can opt-out and decide what to do next with his career.

His contract fits the timeline of Durant and Irving with the Nets. Durant and Irving have three years left, a player option in the third year, in their respective contracts.

Harden played with Durant in Oklahoma City before he got traded to the Rockets in 2012. On the other hand, he played with Irving at Team USA.

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Report: Brooklyn on top of James Harden’s wishlist but Nets divided on the idea

The Brooklyn Nets have emerged as the preferred top destination for Houston Rockets’ superstar James Harden, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, and Zach Lowe.

However, the Nets and the Rockets have yet to engage in a trade discussion as everything has been player-driven so far.

Harden and Durant reportedly have talked about a possible reunion as the Rockets’ superstar is mulling over his future in Houston. But Ian Begley of SNY also reported that not all the Nets players contacted are receptive to the idea of trading for Harden.

Harden’s future with the Rockets alongside Russell Westbrook came into question earlier this week on the heels of the sweeping changes in the organization.

Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, the two architects of the small-ball Rockets featuring Harden, have left the team following their Western Conference semifinals defeat at the hands of the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Morey has since joined the Philadelphia 76ers as team president while D’Antoni accepted an assistant coaching role under his former player and first-time coach Steve Nash, in Brooklyn.

The Rockets have maintained that they intend to contend with Harden. But things could quickly escalate if Harden would demand a trade.

The 31-year old Harden has led the Rockets to the active longest playoff streak — eight seasons in a row — since he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he was the third star to the Durant-Westbrook tandem.

The Nets have the ability trade for Harden with a chest of young assets (Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen) and draft capital (they own all their first-round picks starting next season). Harden is owed $131.5 million over the next three seasons, including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23.

Westbrook, meanwhile, has been linked to several trade rumors, including the Nets’ crosstown rival New York Knicks, but nothing is imminent at this point.

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Knicks weigh Westbrook trade, Rockets star denies Harden rift

New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook

Despite Russell Westbrook coming out in the open to deny the supposed rift with James Harden, the trade chatter just wouldn’t die.

Westbrook replied on ESPN’s Instagram post quoting Stephen A. Smith’s claim of the alleged rift, denying that the Rockets’ superstars no longer want to play together.

”It’s my birthday, but I should say. This is completely fabricated. Y’all have a good night,” Westbrook said.

But even Westbrook’s denial couldn’t stop the trade chatter building up for what could be a blockbuster trade in this compressed offseason.

Marc Stein of the New York Times tweeted on Friday that the New York Knicks have weighed trading for Westbrook.

There’s a debate whether the Knicks are willing to absorb the massive $132.7 million left on his five-year, $206.8 million contract.

The Knicks are one of the only few teams who can absorb Westbrook’s contract without having to match salaries. The other teams who have cap space are the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons.

Jonathan Macri of the New York Film School, on the other hand, wrote in his Friday newsletter that a package centered on Julius Randle had been discussed.

“According to multiple league sources, the Knicks have discussed the specifics of a package that would bring the 2016-17 NBA MVP to New York. The sources indicate that none of the Knicks’ key young pieces are on the table (read: RJ, Mitch, and as far as I can tell, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina), nor will they be. The same goes for any of New York’s own draft picks. I’ve heard Julius Randle would be going, along with some sort of draft asset – maybe 27, maybe 38, maybe one of the Dallas picks – but I can’t confirm which,” Macri wrote.

Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Heavy.com also tweeted last night that the Knicks are not the only team in Westbrook/Rockets’ trade partner wishlist.

Robinson also reported that the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers have also discussed trading Paul George in exchange for Westbrook and Robert Covington.

Westbrook, a nine-time All-NBA team member, had just turned 32 yesterday. The Rockets acquired Westbrook from Oklahoma City Thunder last year in exchange for Chris Paul. The Rockets also sent two protected first-round picks to the Thunder.

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in 57 games for the Rockets last season.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that both Westbrook and Harden had expressed concern on the franchise’s direction after parting ways with former coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey.

The Rockets, who elevated Rafael Stone from assistant to general manager, and hiring first-time head coach Stephen Silas, have maintained they are still committed to contending for the title around their superstars.

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Nets Rumor: James Harden names Brooklyn as one of 3 potential destinations if Rockets blow it up

Could James Harden be the third star that the Brooklyn Nets covet?

With all the unrest in Houston brought by the sweeping changes in the coaching staff and front office, Rockets’ superstars Harden and Russell Westbrook have reportedly expressed concern about the franchise’s direction, per ESPN.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Kendrick Perkins said on The Jump on Wednesday that Harden isn’t picking up the phone calls of the members of the Rockets’ organization.

Five Reasons Sports Network’s Clutch NBA reported shortly after that Harden already has a list in mind on where he wants to go next if the Rockets decide to go in another direction.

The 31-year old Harden has $131.5 million left in his contract, including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23.

Nets’ possible package for Harden

ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks also named the Nets as one of the five teams who have the combination of draft capital and tradeable contracts that can satisfy Rockets’ possible asking price. The four other teams are Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and the 76ers where Daryl Morey, the former Rockets general manager, has indicated that he will trade for Harden if he is made available.

The Nets, according to Marks, can dangle a package composed of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, and future draft picks.

The Nets have internally discussed last season on how to acquire a third star, acknowledging that their championship window has arrived with the acquisition of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

They were previously linked to Bradley Beal and Jrue Holiday, but nothing concrete came out of it.

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Kevin O’Connor: New York Knicks have interest in Russell Westbrook

New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook

Another day, another superstar has been linked to the New York Knicks.

The Ringer’s NBA insider Kevin O’Connor dropped some bombshell on The Mismatch podcast on Tuesday.

“It is interesting the last 24 hours. I did have multiple sources that I trust tell me that teams believe Russell Westbrook could be had—that Westbrook could be had—and I’ve heard the Clippers have interest, I’ve heard the Knicks have interest in Westbrook, and whether anything materializes there, who knows? Who knows? But the fact is that there is a belief that a guy like Westbrook could become available,” O’Connor said.

Both the Knicks and the Clippers need a capable lead guard to right their respective ships.

The Clippers squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals.

The Knicks, on the other hand, have missed the postseason for the seventh straight season.

Westbrook, who will turn 32 on Thursday, is owed $132.5 million over the next three years with a $47 million player option in 2022. He is coming off his first season with the Rockets in which he averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists.

Westbrook helped the Rockets reach the Western Conference semifinals but lost to eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games after winning the series opener.

Westbrook came to the Rockets via trade from Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul, who is reportedly on the move again.

Paul, who has also been linked to the Knicks, is now the subject of a trade discussion between the Phoenix Suns and the Thunder, as per ESPN.

Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, meanwhile, has maintained that “there’s no reason to blow up” the team’s core.

“This is still our window, the next couple of years. James [Harden] and Russell are in their early 30s,” Fertitta said last month. “We’re not blowing up anything. We plan on contending.”

Appearing on The First Take last week, new Rockets head coach Paul Silas said he expects Westbrook and Harden to remain with the team.

“As far as James [Harden], he is our guy,” Silas said during his live interview on ESPN. “In the interview process, I talked to both James and Russell [Westbrook], to let them know, the reason why I wanted this job was because of them. I expect those guys to be here.”

Silas added the Rockets plan to add a traditional center as the team moves on from former GM Daryl Morey’s small-ball approach.

But with 90 percent of the team’s salaries already tied to the trio of Harden, Westbrook, and Eric Gordon, the Rockets have limited options to upgrade their roster.

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